"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Prince Mike and His Futile Feudalism for NYC Schools

The Times reports that Prince Mike cannot find even reluctant lieges to fill his education councils, especially since the pledge to serve requires public knowledge of the economic condition of every vassal. Will the next mayor restore the public to the public schools, or will parents wait that long?:

The stage was set for the candidates’ forum. Andrew Baumann, one of nine candidates on the ballot for a school parent council in southwest Queens, was the first person to arrive.

And he was alone.

“Not a single person,” Mr. Baumann said disgustedly of the recent nonevent in Community School District 27. “One candidate showed up. Me.”

Elections begin on Monday for the 34 parent councils that replaced New York City’s community school boards when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg won control of the school system in 2002.

The councils are intended to give parents a voice in running the schools, and to be even more representative of their interests than the old school boards, which were often criticized as rife with political patronage and corruption.

But with parents fuming that the councils have no real authority, no power to institute policy and no influence with the Department of Education, the elections, which run through May 8, have been foreshadowed by skimpy attendance at candidate forums. And in some cases, there is a distinct lack of candidates to run for vacant seats.
. . . .

Mr. Baumann of District 27, who by day is the president and chief executive of New York Families for Autistic Children, said that to lure parents to the meetings in the past, he invited their children to sing, dance and even recite poetry. Parents still grumbled that their attendance was pointless, he said, because the Department of Education did not listen to their complaints.

“The mayor and the chancellor really don’t want us involved,” said Mr. Baumann, who calls himself a reluctant candidate for a third term. “When you’re running a big corporation, you don’t ask the guys on the loading dock what their opinions are. The way I see it, we’re just pushing a box from one side to the other in a warehouse.”


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